Historic Influential Designer Series: Michael Taylor


This week’s post starts a series of celebrating a few of our favorite designers, starting with influential designers throughout history! We are happy to introduce one of our favorite designers of all time, Michael Taylor, (often referred to as the James Dean of design!) and known for his organic design. Let’s check out some of his work…


Gil Garfield’s living room

Russell MacMasters Photography / W.W. Norton & Co.

Known for this over the top 70’s and 80’s designs from a true “California original,” Michael Taylor has influenced designers for decades. His infamous California look is illustrated here with white interiors, stone floors and over-scaled sculptural furniture. According to Modernist architect Harwell Hamilton Harris, who built the home in 1950, Taylor’s use of “warm white,” not a white white was his trademark, and he always included colors from nature. In the living room, shown here, Taylor used the natural shade of wicker in oversized pieces look beautiful next to the found rock pieces. He achieves what we see as a perfect balance between earthy and clean.


Beyer Living Room – My favorite room ever!

Russell MacMasters Photography/W.W. Norton & Company

This Beyer Malibu residence built by architect John Lautner and designed by Michael Taylor in 1971, incorporates several of Michael’s favorite materials, stone, wicker and organic fabric. To decorate with boulders takes a bold aesthetic sense, but Taylor pulls it off no problem, making it look luxurious even. We see the classic “beachball-esque” pillows and a beautiful waterfront view.


A jungle of luxury! This Michael Taylor design implements his favorite strategies; bringing the outside in. The inclusion of oversized plants sprinkled throughout the entire space makes for a natural feel like no other. We love his famous off-white white, and again, a space with breathtaking views. The rounded edges of the furniture softens the space, and leaves us feeling comforted and intrigued. We love how his signature designs compliment the views, without distracting from them.


Card Room, Fred Lyon / W.W. Norton & Co.

Designed by Taylor in 1963, this card room has all the flavor and glamour for some serious game playing! Taylor worked with the original checkerboard floor as a foundation for an explosion of color, covering ornate Venetian side chairs in electric shades of silk and adding upholstered pieces in lemon yellow. Now if only these walls could talk…


The Jennifer chair, W. W. Norton & Co.

Named for a favorite client, the actress Jennifer Jones, this is one of Taylor’s signature seating collection from the 1970s. These chairs, made from wicker or faux stone, can be used indoors and out, and are huge in scale, featuring another Taylor trademark: overstuffed cushions and pillows designed to look like beach balls.


Marc and Jane Nathanson’s house

John Vaughan & Associates / W. W. Norton & Co.

A 1920’s Spanish house in Beverly Hills got the Taylor treatment in 1978, with banquette seating, chairs built in the cast-concrete hearth, and bamboo window treatments that echoed ceiling beams. With such a notable collection of contemporary art in the home, we believe the more rustic décor provides a beautiful compliment. 


The Black Room, Russell MacMasters Photography/ W.W. Norton & Co.

Here’s one of my personal favorites…the dramatic black room! In his much-loved 1980’s design for the Auberge de Soleil resort in Napa Valley, Taylor created the Black Room, a space dominated by its seductively dark wells. We can’t say enough about the richness of the space, and how well the bright pink floral accents add so much dynamism to the room. 




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